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Running a business requires a firm focus on delivery and an even firmer control over costs. Which puts training programmes a long way down many employers’ lists. But no employee is perfect which means not training your employees also comes with a price tag. We explore four of 2018’s learning trends and look at how they can be implemented.

Training Distributed Teams

International social media management company, Buffer, employs a global workforce with each team member working from a different location in countries around the world. Learning trends have been carefully considered and are structured around three approaches as described in the image below.

Source: Buffer

When your team is located all around the world, traditional classroom learning is out. Which has pushed Buffer to introduce some novel approaches to develop their staff:

  • Each new employee receives a free Kindle and free Kindle books to help them expand their knowledge and grow.
  • 12-week learning sabbaticals are available on 50% pay.
  • The Helpboard gives employees an online place to let colleagues know that they need help learning a specific skill. Teammates check the board and where they can jump in and help out.
  • Learning groups bring together individuals who want to learn a new skill with someone in the business who can teach it to them.
  • Professional Development Fridays allow people to pursue personal development once they have finished their work on a Friday afternoon.
  • Employees are provided with $20 per month to pursue their own personal development.

Buffer’s research shows that their people often use their budget to pay for courses on low-cost online sites like Udemy. Learning Trends are left in the hands of the individual and they are trusted to identify their own learning needs and fill the gap.

Whether this approach would work for your business depends on your culture and the level of trust invested in your employees. However, if you’re looking for low-cost ways to help employees help themselves these strategies could pay dividends.

Niche Learning Trends

As job roles become increasingly specialised, so the learning these individuals require becomes narrower and deeper. In a word, niche.

Booming industries as wide-ranging as the craft beer and cybersecurity sectors find that traditional training programmes simply don’t cut it. And firms are seeking niche training to ensure their people have the relevant skills to thrive in their roles helping the business prosper too.

As with anything specialist, niche learning comes with a hefty price tag that requires careful thought before investing.

Start by identifying a small number of specialist roles that add real value to your business and understand exactly where their field of expertise is headed. Then match training requirements with the learning outcomes of the course to future proof your team and business.

Ultra High Tech Virtual Reality (VR) Learning Trends

Imagine being able to give your employees real-world training experience without any of the risk. That’s exactly what big business is doing by using cutting-edge VR technology.

By training in virtual simulations of real-life scenarios, employees are able to participate in experiential learning without the prospect of making a costly mistake. That could include dealing with a sensitive customer complaint, carrying out a hazardous chemical disposal or learning to fly a plane.

The potential for this kind of technology to help employees address gaps in experience – not just learning – is huge. However, the tech is not quite there just yet and will need developing before it becomes mainstream.

The other main stumbling block is the eye-watering price. While this technology may be out of reach for many businesses, it’s certainly one to keep an eye on for the future.


65% of HR Professionals believe the skills needed to ensure the success of their organisation is changing. Leadership, commercial awareness and digital skills are all marked as areas businesses need to invest in.

Source: CIPD

Skills gaps exist for a wide range of reasons including the loss of skilled workers from the workforce, insufficient levels of education and a divide between what schools and colleges teach and the requirements of businesses.

Whatever the reasons, employers are often left to pick up the pieces and upskill those already in the workforce.

This has resulted in businesses implementing apprenticeships, college partnerships and on-the-job training programmes to bring existing employees up to speed. Designing an effective programme for your business requires an understanding of:

  • the skills your business needs both now and in the future
  • the skills your existing employees have
  • where your business is heading

This information will help you tailor the development of your people with the requirements of your business and anticipate the skills required as roles evolve. Not only this but you’ll reduce your reliance on the external labour market and minimise associated recruitment costs too.

Without an in-house Learning and Development resource, this feels like a mammoth task that often falls to the bottom of the list. Working with an experienced HR Consultant offers a cost-effective way forward that will boost your business both now and for the future.

If your business could benefit from employee training, contact Crosse HR on 0330 555 1139 or email at hello@crossehr.co.uk.